Tuesday Tips – Five Ways To Improve Online Credit Card Account Opening Applications

by on Jan 22, 2013

tuesday_tips_smallTuesday Tips helps financial services firms improve a key aspect of the online user experience. Recommendations are taken directly from ourMonitor Reports and Consulting Services research, which cover banking, brokerage, credit cards, asset management, retirement, annuities and insurance.

This week’s recommendations come from our Credit Card Monitor report onOnline Credit Card Applications and focus on ways credit card issuers can improve the account opening applications they offer prospects on their public websites:

#1 Offer an Informative Introductory Page Before Application  – The presence of a landing page before the application begins allows prospects to be aware of what the process actually entails. Firms can use this page to provide general card information, the requirements needed to be a qualified applicant, or even how long the application process takes – useful information for prospects. Wells Fargo offers the best landing page, using bullet points to list the details an applicant needs to have nearby in order to apply, in addition to offering a login area for existing online banking customers to access a pre-filled application. While Wells Fargo does not provide an estimated time frame for completing the application, simply stating the overall sequence of events can help mentally prepare applicants for the application process.

#2 Allow Prospects to Save the Application – The option to save an application and complete it at a later time is a great feature to offer prospects, eliminating the need to re-start the application process. Less than half of the CCM firms currently offer this feature, with American Express and Discover providing the most seamless way to save an application at any point during the process: a lightbox asking for an email address. The firms then send the prospect a link directly to their saved application.

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American Express Save & Apply Later Feature

#3 Let Prospects Sign Up for Traditional Card Options Online – When applying for a credit card, every firm should provide prospects with the option to select card features directly within the application. The most common options among issuers in this report are the option to transfer balances and to add additional card holders (or authorized users). While advanced options are constantly expanding, these more traditional options should be offered by all firms. The best issuers offer prospects the option to transfer multiple balances and to set up multiple card holders when applying. American Express leads the way in providing these options, enabling prospects to add up to four additional card plastics and make four balance transfers from within the application.

#4 Provide Next Generation Card Options – Firms should integrate opportunities for selecting advanced card options into their online applications, such as allowing users to add EMV chips or personalized images to their cards prior to hitting the Apply button. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are currently the only firms facilitating the selection of contactless chips/payment tags to their new card account within card applications, and B of A is the only firm to enable applicants to request an EMV chip, though this option is only currently available for some card products.

#5 Include a Verification Page – Every online card account application should include a verification page. Providing this step allows prospects to give their information a final glance before submitting a credit card application. With many applications asking users to input a variety of personal and financial information within a single (long) page application, having a verification page would seem like an easy and obvious feature. It is, however, something that is only currently including within the application sequence of four firms. American Express offers the most unique verification page, allowing users to edit individual entry fields directly within the verification page without having to go back to individual steps within the application process. The other three firms to offer verification pages instead offer edit links next to each specific section of the application directing users back to that step of the application for users to make necessary changes.